I want to thank all of you for your help in planning our trip. We had an awesome time in Ireland!
I did not take notes, so I won't be able to name every place we ate, drank and shopped at, but here is the synopsis.
Monday: We were sweating it out up until just a few hours before our flight left because the ash cloud had the airports shut down the day prior to our flight. We drove 5 hours to Chicago (big savings compared to flying out of Cincinnati, although I live 10 minutes from that airport). Enroute, I discovered our flight was going to depart 2 hours later than scheduled. We had a long wait at the airport and our flight left 3 hrs late. Aer Lingus did give us $10 dsruption vouchers.
Flight was very good, but we got only short nap.
Tuesday: Arrived in Dublin around 9:00. Checked in Dooley car rental and then had to wait about 30 minutes for the van to take us to the rental place. After we arrived there, it took us another 1 1/2 hours! They were very disorganized. It took a long time for them to find our car and then there were no GPSs in them, which we were supposed to have. They were finally able to scramble around and find us one GPS, but it would not charge....much much later, we were on our way with only 1 GPS semi working.
Driving into Dublin was very challenging, but we made it to our hotel without incident, parked the car and left it! We were very pleased with Croke Park Hotel. Some of our group (there were 7 of us, since my brother backed out last minute) stayed and napped at the hotel and the rest of us, not wanting to miss a minute of our time, set out on foot to explore. We walked to the city center. We had dinner at Toddy's bar where we all had the fish and chips and they were excellent. Walked around some more, shopped and then back to the hotel early as we were exhausted.
Wednesday: Next morning we snacked on pastry we had bought the night before (breakfast at our hotel was $20 per person!). Tried to program Kilkenny into the GPS, but were not very successful. Going by the map in Dublin is useless, since the streetsigns are impossible to see while you are driving. They are not on posts on the streets...they are on buildings and very hard to see. That was the most frustrating it ever was to drive there. After we got out of the city, it was much better.
We made it to Kilkenny and looked for a pub for lunch,but since it was only 11:00, we were informed that most places would not serve food until 12:00, so we went to the castle. My mother and I had been there before, but the rest of the group had not and we thought it was such a great place, we wanted them to see. it. My son liked it so much, he chose that sight to propose to his girlfriend! That will forever be a special place for our family. I was relieved he did it early in the week, since I was the ring keeper and it made me nervous having to keep up with it. I was afraid to leave it anywhere lest it be stolen. We had lunch and then were on our way to Killarney.
Found the sign to our B&B, Applecroft House, but had a little trouble finding the place, since it is back a long driveway among other houses. We were so pleased with this place! We had intended to see Muckross Gardens and Torc waterfall this evening, but the drive was just too much and noone wanted to get back in the car. Besides, we were informed the waterfall was just a trickle presently. Instead, we walked to town. Kathy, the B&B owner had recommended Flesk restaurant. (Bean, I wanted to take your advice and go to Mac's, but Kathy made Flesks sound so good, everyone wanted to eat there, so I didn't even mention it until later.) When we arrived at Flesks, we wer pleased to discover Kathy had made reservations for us! We had a good dinner there, but a word about the steaks. Everywhere we went, if anyone ordered a steak anything other than welldone, they were disappointed. There seems to be only one way to cook a steak there.
Thursday: The next day we took a bus tour of the Dingle penninsula. It was such a treat to get a break from driving! Kathy arranged the tour at a discount for us, but I don't know the name of the company. It was beautiful, but there was a problem with the climate control on the bus and it kept getting hotter and hotter. It got up to 33C. We were roasting! That night we had dinner at a place my son picked because he wanted the Lobster he saw in the window.
Friday: Left Killarny the next morning and drove to The ferry. crossed the river Sahnnon, and then on to the Cliffs of Moher Gorgeous!. The GPS took us down some narrow country roads that were really what we had pictured it would be like in Ireland (think PS I love You) Drove on to Kinvara. We found our B&B (Villa Maria) without a problem It was nice, but after Applecroft, we knew no other woud live up to it's standard. We had intended to have dinner at Dunquaire Castle Banquet, but could not get in for the early seating, even though I tried to get reservations more than a month ahead. Noone wanted to wait for the late seating so we went to town and had dinner. After that we went to a pub and the others drank while I watched. We had 2 cars, but we could all get in the van and I was the only one who was insured to drive it. Therefore, I was always the DD. Bummer.( not that I'm a heavy drinker, but I like to have a couple of drinks). Let me add here, I was not expecting the long daylight hours. It was light until 10:30 pm and light again by 5:00 am!
Sat: We left after breakfast and drove to Galway. We found a car park and just walked around the city and shopped. Then off to Ashford castle in Cong. Wow! I've never stayed in a 5 star hotel, much less a castle. It was amazing! I wrote a review if you care to look. We walked the 5 minute walk to the other restaurant on the premises for lunch. WE enjoyed the castle the rest of the afternoon. The grounds are beautiful, as is everything about the place. Later that night, since dinner at the main dining room was E68 and required a jacket and tie, which noone was prepared for, we walked about 5 minutes to town and had a very nice dinner at Ryan's hotel. Had wonderful entertainment that night. Singer, who played the hard and a pianist. They performed Irish tunes. We were not expecting this , and it was a treat. Next morning, breakfast was included in our stay and it was excellent. Hated leaving.
Sunday: Drove to Dublin and back to Croke Park hotel. Took off on foot. Walked around a while , had luch at a chinese place,and then bought a ticket for the city bus tour. Even though it was 4:30pm and they only run until about 6:30 pm, we were glad we spent the E16 for it and saw as much of the city as time alllowed. We got off at the castle stop and walked around the castle. We then walked back to Temple Bar stop and had a drink at one of the pubs. Got back on the bus and rode until we were back where we started. Got out and shopped a little, picking up last minute souveniers, then made our way back to the hotel. Hung out in the lounge at our hotel. So sad for the trip to end.
Monday: Back to Dooley to return the car and then to the airport.
We did not have one drop of rain the entire week other than a shower we drove through once on the second day. It was so warm the last couple of day, we wished we had brought a pair of shorts or capris and left a couple of the sweaters at home! We were very blessed. Nothing major went wrong and the weather was much better than we could ever hope for. The people are very friendly and helpful. The country is beautiful. I love to just sit and reminence about the week we spent in Ireland.